TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: "All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)

Re: "All the President's Men" (Still More Movie Phone Trivial)
Mon, 25 Jun 2007 07:21:46 -0700

On Jun 22, 3:42 am, > [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note:

> Lisa Hancock is confused on this: She needs to remember this is 2007
> 'anything goes with any telco', _NOT_ 1974-75 'we run it all'
> Bell. The service reps in those days were very explicit: if two or
> more phones in the same residence, they all had to have the same
> type of service. Otherwise, for the subscriber, it would be 'too
> easy' to 'accidentally' use the phone line which was more generous.

Sorry to disagree but in 1975 our home had two different service
lines, one was flat rate, the other (my phone) was message rate. Not
a problem at all, indeed, it was common in households with multiple
lines. As mentioned, when I visited people's homes that had multiple
phone lines, I would be directed to reach line to use.

The Bell System was not uniform. As we've seen, flat rate packages
were called by different names in different places. It's entirely
possible the tarrifs in your area would not allow different line types
while in our area they did, so both our experiences were correct.

I know that in the 1970s phone rates and packages varied significantly
from place to place. For some reason, Bell of Pennsylvania's rates
ran cheaper. I recall being quite surprised at finding out in other
cities flat rate service was very expensive, indeed, everying else
(extension rental, message units, etc) were more expensive too.
However, I think Bell of Pa INTRA state tolls were higher than what
other states charged, however, maybe that cross subsidized local

In some places Bell wasn't making much money from local tarrifs
because of inflation and local issues. While cities offered great
economies of scale, they had problems too. In the 1960-70s urban
problems -- vandalism, deadbeats, equipment theft, toll fraud,
assaults, unqualfied labor pool, arson, crowded conduits -- became
rather costly for the Bell System. Perhaps as a result in some cities
they took a tougher line than others.

One thing the Bell System --and regulators -- did not like was
"bootleg" customer-owned extension telephones. These became very
popular in those years. Either surplus 300 sets or AE/ITT sets were
available for sale from electronics stores for about $10-15. At $1/
month extension rental, these phones would pay for themselves in about
a year or so. A lot of people resented paying that rental for an
extension phone. But as mentioned, the regulators wanted that profit
to cross-subsidize the cost of basic service. If you wanted only one
phone set and message rate service, it was pretty cheap (party line
was even cheaper). Remember, they gave you one telephone set as part
of the monthly fee, it was the _additional_ extensions that cost rent.

Another legitimate reason Bell didn't like bootleg sets was
interference with the network and repair costs _they_ got stuck with.
Remember back then Bell was responsible for any and everything broken
at _their_ cost. So, if someone messed up wiring a bootleg extension
and shorted their line or created heavy static, then callers would be
bothering the operator to verify the line and even a repair order
might be generated. This happened a gerat deal; the phone company
would trace out the trouble and order the offeder to remove the
bootleg extension at once or their service would be cut off.

This applied to business customers too as well as early computer
users. If you wanted to use a wired non Bell modem, you better have
the interface protection installed.

As we know, at the time of divesture, Bell ceased to rent out
extension phones and customers bought their own. This was going to
happen regardless of Divesture because by that point Bell knew
customers resented it and it was costing Bell more money to send out
repairmen 24/7 than they were getting in rental revenue. The new Bell
offered a repair contract -- at extra charge -- which was in essence what
they were doing before as part of the montly service fee.

There was an excellent book about divesture, unfortunately I no longer
have it and can't recall the title. But it discussed it from the
point of view of regulators and company officials concerned with
service quality. It is clear they all had some very legitimate
concerns about the future. Some didn't come to pass as a result of
new and better technology and lower rates, but others did as they
feared and we just accept those nuisances today.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, Lisa, perhaps _your_ Bell telco
was loose about multiple phones and classes of service in the same
residence, but _my_ Bell telco (Illinois Bell) was not. Quite a few
Chicagoans could tell you horror stories about having ordered that
sort of service, and occassionally 'getting away with it' only to get
caught later on and punished (by back-dated charges, etc.)

And regards illigitimate extension phones you bootlegged and installed
on your own, Illinois Bell was not very happy about those either. We
had people who would insist that 'Bell could not tell the difference'
as long as you kept all the ringers disconnected except for the one
(phone you were paying for) and you did not unneccessarily tamper with
any of the phones and you disconnected and took away the bootlegged
phone(s) whenever you had a reason to call repair service. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Reuters News Wire: "Web Radio Stations Set for "Day of Silence" Protest June 26"
Go to Previous message: iphone_freak: "Re: YouTube Live on Apple TV Today; Coming to iPhone on June 29"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page